Sunday, May 28, 2017

Surviving Victim of Friday Train Stabbing a Poet and PSU Student
May 27, 2017 at 5:43 PM
Oregon Live

Micah Fletcher performs during the second annual Verselandia, a poetry competition for Portland Public Schools students held in 2013 at the Wonder Ballroom. Fletcher, now 21, was one of three victims in Friday's MAX train stabbing. He is expected to survive. (Andie Petkus Photography)

The Oregonian/OregonLive
The living victim of the MAX train stabbing Friday, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, is a former Madison high school student who won a 2013 poetry competition with a poem condemning prejudices faced by muslims.

Fletcher was one of three men who approached suspect Jeremy Christian, who was allegedly yelling racial slurs at two young women, one of them wearing a hijab. Christian stabbed all three men, killing two of them and injuring Fletcher.

Fletcher's decision to stand up for the women was perfectly in character, said Mandela Cordeta, 26, an old friend. Fletcher's been passionate about social justice for years, he said. This was particularly evident in his poetry, Cordeta said.

Fletcher, now a Portland State University music student, won a Verselandia poetry slam in 2013. The subject of one of the two poems was the continuing prejudice Muslims face after the 9/11 attacks.

"When two towering trees of wrought iron and glass and cement are brought down to their knees,

We let it leave an ugly footprint on america that hasn't disappeared in 12 years.


As in one third the amount of civilians killed by drones in the middle east per one terrorist caught in the crossfire," Fletcher read from a black book.

At the time, he said his growing passion for writing had transformed into a desire to speak out for others.

"I was sick of not being heard," he had said, "and I was sick of other people not being heard."

Fletcher is a student at Portland State University, university spokesman Chris Broderick said. The university is reaching out to Fletcher's family to offer their support.

In a statement, the university said:

"The PSU community is shocked and horrified by Friday's fatal attack on the MAX train and joins our community at large in offering condolences for the two men killed in the attack and in doing all we can to help with Mr. Fletcher's recovery."

Portland poet Maia Abbruzzese said Fletcher was a mentor to her and another 11 poets in 2015. She's come across him numerous times since then at poetry slams. His poems are philosophical and often have a social justice angle, she said.

Because of the themes in his poetry and what she saw of his personality, Abbruzzese said she wasn't surprised he was involved in the incident on the MAX train.

"Just because of who he is as a person," Abbruzzese said. "He deeply cares about other people."

Portland police said Fletcher was hospitalized after the attack but was expected to survive. Witnesses said he and the other two victims, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Ricky Best, intervened when the suspect starting yelling slurs at two women on the train.

When they intervened, the man pulled out a knife and stabbed them, witnesses said.

Police arrested Christian, 35, and booked him into Multnomah County Jail on suspicion of aggravated murder and attempted murder.

Fletcher's phone was not accepting calls late Saturday afternoon.

-- Fedor Zarkhin

503-294-7674; @fedorzarkhin

A Facebook account that appeared to belong to a TriMet bus driver responded to a stabbing that left two MAX riders dead and one injured Friday, saying "Liberals and Democrats" are "turning it into a Muslim hatred thing."

The post came early Saturday, the day after a man on a MAX train targeted two teenage girls, one black and one a Muslim wearing a hijab, with verbal abuse, including anti-Muslim sentiments. He then turned on three men who intervened, police said, stabbing all three. Two of the men intervening died, while a third was hospitalized.

The lengthy response to a news story about the stabbing said the response focused too much on the targets of the verbal abuse.

"I pray for the families left mourning for these that were killed because a few showed care is what needs to be focused on," the post said.

The post then turned its attention to other matters, writing, "Illegals are breaking our laws and dangerous!"

There's no evidence anyone involved in the incident had entered the country illegally.

"Shame on any others making this a political statement," the post said, "or spreading and continuing your hatred toward our history, our Nation, and our God!"

The page included a photo of a woman wearing a TriMet uniform in front of a TriMet bus. A Terisha Shimer was hired by the agency in September 2012. Her base salary in 2016 was $59,000, and she earned $40,000 in overtime pay.

A call to Shimer went unanswered, as did a message to the Facebook page.

A TriMet spokeswoman confirmed Shimer was an employee of the agency.

"We value and respect the employee's right to free speech," spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt said in an email. "However, the individual's thoughts and feelings are not shared by TriMet and do not reflect our organization's values."

TriMet's general manager, Neil McFarlane, responded to the stabbing Saturday in a message to riders.

"The only way to combat this fear and devastation is to come together in unity Transit remains a unifier, connecting people and creating a stronger community," McFarlane said. "We all must be resolute against this hate and stand united."

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